The American Lifeograph Company, New York                               1906-1907


This early 35mm motion picture projector was manufactured by the American Lifeograph Company, 142 East Fourteenth Street, New York.  In deference to the patent name, I'm referring to it as the Kinetoscope model as there is no name or model designation on the maker's tag:


Patent No. 865,106 was granted to Boyd H. Keller of New York on September 3, 1907 for a "Kinetoscope".  Having filed for the patent on February 8, 1907,  and the with film roller guide marked "PAT. APLD. FOR.", Keller was most likely producing his Kinetoscope in 1906. This also indicates that this example dates prior to securing the patent in September, 1907:

There is a tax record for an "American Life-o-graph Co.", noted in the Annual Report of the State Treasurer, State of New York for the Fiscal Year Ending September 30, 1907. Also, an ad for American Lifeograph in the September 1907 Luyceumite & Talent states " The Place to Buy or Rent Moving Pictures for all Countries, Lectures Illustrated with moving pictures or lantern slides. We sell or rent machines, films, song slides and lecture sets. Expert operators with or without machines. All kinds of supplies in stock. Write for catalogue.  The American Lifeograph Co., Inc.  142 East 14th St., New York".  The Trow Directory for the Boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx, New York, for March 1909 and March 1914, lists the American Lifeograph Company at 142 E. 14th St., with Boyd H. Keller as President and Eugenia Keller as Secretary, with capital of $10,000 and Directors Boyd H. & Eugenia Keller, John Dorman and Charles Grazer.  The tax record's spelling of "Life-o-graph", differs from both the maker's tag found on the projector, and the film company "American Lifeograph".  Although a manufacturer of motion picture apparatus, it's not known whether the American Lifeograph Company of New York was associated (or one in the same) with the American Lifeograph Company motion picture studio of Portland, Oregon.

The American Lifeograph Company, an early motion picture studio operating between 1910 and 1920, was founded by writer and director Lewis H. Moomaw (1889-1980) and four other film makers in Portland, Oregon in 1910.  The American Machinist Journal, Volume 34, January 1-June 30 1911, noted May 11, 1911, that the American Lifeograph Company of Portland, Oregon had purchased property and would erect a plant to manufacture  motion picture films.  American Lifeograph is known to have released five films between 1915-1920, a handful in comparison to the larger Hollywood studios of the time. Their films were distributed through the Vitagraph Company of America (1897-1925), the Arrow Film Corporation (1915-1926), State Rights, Globe Feature Picture Booking Company and the United Booking Office Feature Company.  Both The Golden Trail (1920) and The Deceiver (1920) were co-directed by Lewis H. Moomaw and the legendary actor, director and film industry humanitarian, Jean Hersholt.  Moomaw would later form the  Associated Pictures Corporation in 1925, but he ceased film production by 1930.  During the late 1930's and 1940's, Moomaw was granted numerous patents relating to cameras and projectors, some of which were assigned to DeJur-Amsco, Keystone, Eastman Kodak and Bell & Howell.

Today, the American Lifeograph name is attached to a Portland, Oregon film and digital media production company, registered in 2012.


Research is needed to determine whether these companies were two separate entities, and if so, whether any collaboration existed between them.  Like motion picture pioneer Siegmund Lubin's business model, American Lifeograph's vision may have been the manufacture of apparatus, in the promotion of and in concert with film production and distribution.

It's unknown just how long this Kinetoscope model was manufactured.  However, the American Lifeograph Company is listed in The Reference Registry for 1918-1919 at 206 W. 42d, New York and at 125 W. 46th Street, New York in the Julius Cahn-Gus Hill Theatrical Guide and Moving Picture Directory for 1922 under the "Motion Picture Machines and Supplies" category.


This is the only American Lifeograph Kinetoscope I'm aware of.  Compared with other projectors manufactured during this era, it certainly ranks among the rarest.



                               Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office